In other words, they may be seen as a contract between the State and the applicant by which the latter acquires the exclusive right to produce and sell an invention, in exchange for fully disclosing the invention to the public. Patents can be granted to any type of invention in any field of technology, whether it is a product or a process, as well as for new processes for obtaining products, substances or compounds which already exist.
The minimum time is 21 months from the filling date.
The duration of a patent is 20 years, starting from the filing or priority date.
Maintenance fees for patents are payable yearly, and should be requested during the final six months of the validity period. If a renewal request is submitted after this period (but no longer than six months later), an additional fee is due.
The duration of a utility model is 6 years, starting from the filing or priority date, but this period can be extended. During the final six months of the validity period, the owner can request an extension for a period of two years, and during the final six months of this supplementary period, a second and final request for extension of the protection period can be made, again for a period of two years.
The duration of a utility model, together with its two extensions, cannot exceed 10 years, starting from the date the initial application was filed.
Maintenance fees utility models are payable yearly, and should be requested during the final six months of the validity period. If a renewal request is submitted after this period (but no longer than six months later), an additional fee is due.
Protecting an invention by means of a Utility Model involves an administrative procedure that is faster and simpler than the process of applying for a patent. However, this type of protection is weaker and cannot be awarded to inventions dealing with biological material or chemical and pharmaceutical substances or processes.
Protection can be awarded for inventions that fulfil all of the following three criteria:
In this context, the expression ‘novelty’ means that it is not part of the state of the art. An invention is not considered to have been disclosed to the public if there has been a clear abuse of the inventor's rights or if it was unduly published by the National Institute of Industrial Property. It is also not considered to harm novelty any disclosure made by means of any communication made to international exhibitions if three conditions are fulfilled, namely:
• The disclosure must be made by the applicant/inventor himself;
• The disclosure must be made within a period of no longer than 6 months
before the application;
• The disclosure must be indicated on the patent or utility model application
form (referring to the date when it took place) and confirmed by the
attachment of a document that certifies the disclosure. If you still do not
have such a document, you have a period of 1 to 2 months to add it to your
- Inventive step
In the case of patents, an invention is considered as involving an inventive step if, taking into account the state of the art, it is not obvious to a person skilled in the art.
In the case of utility models, an invention is considered as involving an inventive step if it is not an obvious result of the state of the art or if it represents a practical or technical advantage for the manufacture or use of the product or process in question.
In this way, inventions that cannot be protected by patent, due to a clear lack of an inventive step, may be eligible for protection as a utility model if they confer a practical or technical advantage, as outlined above.
- Industrial applicability
An invention is considered to be an industrially applicable when its object can be made or used in any kind of industry, including agriculture.
The state of the art includes also all patent or utility model applications that have been filed in the country where protection is being sought, even if they have not yet been published.
The following cannot be protected by patent:
• Discoveries, as well as scientific theories and mathematical methods;
• Materials or substances that already exist in nature, and nuclear materials;
• Aesthetic creations;
• Projects, principles or methods of carrying out intellectual activities in the
area of games, or in the field of economic activities, as well as computer
programs, as such, without any contribution;
• Presentations of information;
• Methods of surgical or therapeutic treatment, as well as methods of
diagnosis, for both humans and animals. However, products, substances
or compounds used in these methods can be protected.
It is also not possible to get protection for:
Inventions whose commercial exploitation is against the law, public order, public health or good morals, namely:
• Processes for cloning human beings;
• Processes for modifying the initial genetic identity of a human being;
• Uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial ends;
• Processes for modifying the genetic identity of animals in such a way as to
cause them needless suffering that has no substantial medical benefit for
man or animals, as well as animals obtained through these processes;
• The human body, in various stages of its formation and development, as
well as the simple discovery of one of its elements, including the total or
partial sequence of a gene, except for the special cases outlined in law;
• Plant varieties or animal breeds, as well as essentially biological
processes for obtaining plants or animals.